Importance of access to literacy

Aboriginal artifacts

Aboriginal artifacts

“Whether it’s reading or writing, literacy is an outlet to an untouchable world – your imagination. Not only is literacy a basic human right, it is a fundamental building block for learning as well as a personal empowerment tool. It is the catalyst for social and global progress.”  (from http://internationalliteracyday.org/ )

International Literacy Day was held on 8 September 2015. It is a good time to remember that some people have difficulty with the following:

  • reading a medicine label
  • filling out a job application form
  • reading a bank statement
  • understanding government policies and processes
  • assisting their children with their homework
  • and so much more.

When I trained as a literacy tutor I found out that nearly 50% of Australians struggle to read well enough to meet the complex demands of everyday life. This can impact on their independence, physical and mental health and their job prospects. No small matter!

People with low literacy levels can become adept at hiding their problems by making excuses about forgetting to bring their glasses or asking other people to help them. They may scribble words they cannot spell to disguise it. I confess I do this sometimes as well!

When I lived in the Kimberley region of Western Australia I worked with adult Aboriginal women who were keen to learn English. They could converse in their own language but English wasn’t their first language.

It was a watershed moment for me at Election time. I realized how vulnerable they were to being duped into voting for someone who did not represent their best interests. This was when I realised the relationship between literacy, power and equality.

This prompted me to advocate on the need for access to literacy skills to empower people to make their own decisions for their own best interests.

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I am not making it up …

about ageI recently had my sixtieth birthday and that means I have done a range of things in those six decades. Sometimes I surprise people when I mention some of those things. I guess we all travel our own journeys and we can never be sure where they will take us. A list of some of my adventures follows:

  • I left home in country Victoria at 17 years old to live in Melbourne and I was a bit into the hippie culture at the time
  • I met my first husband in Melbourne and we married when I was 18
  • My three sons were born in my twenties
  • I lived and worked in several remote communities with high Indigenous populations within Australia including Numbulwar in the Northern Territory, Fitzroy Crossing, Derby, Geraldton and Esperance in Western Australia
  • I was the Newman correspondent for the North West Telegraph when I was living in the Pilbara
  • I didn’t complete high school but went on to gain university entrance as an adult and have since achieved separate qualifications in management and professional writing
  • Twice divorced meant some time as a single mother of my three sons
  • I started studying theology at one stage but didn’t see it through plus I was a Church Warden, Synod representative and Pastoral Assistant in the Anglican Church
  • I was a Shire Councillor and Deputy Shire President with the East Pilbara Shire and ran as a candidate for the State Government in 1993
  • During my time working for the government I spent time in Education and Training, Culture and the Arts, Communities and Disability Services
  • I am really interested in computers and social media and love WordPress 🙂

What I find interesting is the diversity of some of my activities but I guess there is some consistency in the overall story. There are a few adventures held back – I don’t want to give everything away!

Weekly photo challenge: Extra

Too much rain can have devastating consequences. These photos were taken during a wet season in Fitzroy Crossing in the early 1980’s while I was living there. People were cut off from food supplies, the bore pumps were flooded and ironically there was a shortage of water for household use. One of my neighbours was bitten by a venomous snake and had to be driven through the flood water to get medical help. I wouldn’t go outside to the clothes line as I heard something splashing in the flood water and was worried it could be a crocodile. After some time, the floods subsided and the big job of fixing the infrastructure began – until the next big rains!

Launch of my short story

I have been absent from WordPress in recent weeks as I worked on finishing my unit of study with Edith Cowan University online. The unit is Authorship and Publication. The main submission for assessment is my ebook, Beyond the Crossing.

As it is my first short story I decided to make it available as a free ebook to anyone who would like to read it.

With assignments now completed,  I can start preparing for my trip to Victoria on Saturday. I am staying with my son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons for a week. After that I am spending a couple of days in Melbourne with my two sisters. Click on the link below to go to the page where you can download a copy.

Click HERE to go to Beyond the Crossing.

Learning by doing

Today I searched for quotes to motivate me to continue my work on a current writing assignment. I need to have a 2,500 word draft piece of fiction ready for editing by Monday at the latest. I have written about 3,000 words so far but it lacks energy. I need to do a lot more work on it. I am basing my short story on some of my experiences living in outback Australia.

about study

 

Distractions

I have looked at old photos to research information for my writing assignment. It was great to see the photos again because it prompted my memory about so many things I had forgotten. One of them cashew apples. We had a cashew tree in our yard – you couldn’t eat the nuts without baking but the fruit was really yummy.

I found this photo of my Mum taken in 1983. She traveled by bus from Victoria to Fitzroy Crossing to be there when I gave birth to my third son. That is an incredible distance to travel by bus – around 3500 miles. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see much of her as I was in hospital a lot longer than anticipated. I think I spent one or two days with her and then she caught the bus home again! What a woman :-). She was in her early sixties at the time.

Now, back to that assignment!

Mum Fitzroy Crossing 1983

Which story has most appeal?

As part of my studies I need to further develop some stories. I would really appreciate your feedback. Thanks 🙂

SYNOPSIS – FANTASY
The Magic Tunnel

A little four-year-old girl finds a magical world just beyond Grandma’s back fence. Only Lindy knows the secret entrance. A blue wren whispered it in her ear and made her promise to keep it secret – even from Grandma. Lindy carefully lifts one of the pavers on the patio and jumps into the beautiful rainbow tunnel. The bright colours swirl like a kaleidoscope until Lindy reaches the giant rainbow coloured bubble. This is her secret, best ever, place to be. She is safe there and everything is beautiful and kind. The blue wrens also live in the bubble and they tell Lindy about all the bush creatures while they sit around a little table having a tea party.

SYNOPSIS – NON-FICTION
The Pros and Cons of Lifestyle Villages

The ageing of baby boomers is influencing many aspects of Australian life in the 21st Century with many people aged over 45 and over 55 moving into a Lifestyle or Retirement Villages. This is a big decision with lasting consequences financially, socially and health wise.The writer currently resides in a Lifestyle Village in Busselton and brings her personal observations to the fore. This book also draws on Australian and international research to substantiate its claims. Areas covered include the following chapters:
1. What are the financial implications of moving to a retirement village and what is a lifetime lease?
2. What legislation is relevant to Retirement Villages in Western Australia
3. Age considerations – when is the best time to make the move?
4. What are the expectations, and how does reality measures up?
5. Case studies with divergent points of view
6. Links to resources and further information

CULTURE SHOCK – FICTION
Up- side- down in the Northern Territory

John and Raelene live in the idyllic rain forest environment of Belgrave, in the Dandenong Ranges on the outskirts of Melbourne with their two young children, Nigel and Belinda. A unique opportunity arises, tempting them to give up all that is familiar and move to Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory for John to take up a position as Store Manager for the remote Indigenous community of Numbulwar. The Community Store, owned and operated by an Anglican Mission, is in transition of ownership to the Indigenous Corporation. The township has around five hundred Indigenous people and around a dozen non-Aboriginal people who hold positions in health, education, plus the Store Manager. With no previous experience working with Indigenous people and no training provided, they quickly discover they are way out of their depth. As culture shock takes hold, they begin to question everything they once believed about their values and ideals. This is the story of  their enlightenment.

 

Daily prompt: Safety first

Share the story of a time you felt unsafe …

In 1980 my former husband and I took up an opportunity to work in a remote Indigenous community in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory of Australia. I was twenty-six at the time with two sons – one was four years old and the other was only six-months old. It was a big adventure for us all.

At first I was even scared of the local Indigenous people but I later learned that I was experiencing culture shock. Everything was unfamiliar to me and communication was difficult. In time, my children helped me overcome that barrier as children tend to do.

There were deadly snakes to be afraid of too – Death (Deaf?) Adders and other venomous species. It wasn’t unusual to find snakes in our yard. Once I found one in my pantry cupboard!

Probably the scariest experience was a trip out bush to a billabong. It was a sandy track only suitable for four-wheel drive vehicles. We were in an open cabin Land Rover. Some way into the journey we found ourselves confronted by a wild, male buffalo.

It was snorting and stamping its feet while it considered what to do with us. We sat still (apart from the shaking!) for several minutes. It was very angry and showing it! Each of us said lots of prayers that we would get out of this alive and the buffalo would get bored with us. I am pleased to say it eventually found something more interesting to frighten and left us alone. Phew!

We were only a minute’s walk from the beach too but the fear of crocodiles meant we didn’t go there often 🙂

Great memories!

cheers

Lorraine

A Long Walk Home

IMG_0004

This photograph was taken in Fitzroy Crossing sometime in the early 1980s when there was a significant flood of the Fitzroy River. I love the angles in the photo and the shimmer of the water on the road. I can see it on the cover of a story about a young boy walking home …

Can you think of any other titles that might suit the picture?

Cheers

Lorraine 🙂

 

Reading and writing

This weekend I am attending a two-day course in Bunbury to become a tutor in the Read, Write Now program in my community. I am really looking forward to it. It is four days training in total, presented over two weekends. I have been a literacy tutor in the past and enjoyed the experience greatly.

People who cannot read or write (in their first or second language) are at a real disadvantage. I became aware of this in the 1980’s when I was living in Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. It was election time and information was only available in a written format in English. Many of the adult Indigenous people had limited English language skills and tended to make their decisions based on the friendliness and rapport of whatever politician was visiting at the time. It struck me as being very unfair.

This experience prompted me to work with the local people to help improve their reading and writing. It was the first time I became aware of how much I enjoy reading and writing and determined to use these skills in my life and in my career. That insight has impacted on many decisions over the years and I am excited to be going back to where I started with the Adult Literacy program.

cheers

Lorraine